June 21, 2006
Cardinale Speaks To Calverton
Calverton residents wanted answers, and last Wednesday at the Calverton Civic Association's monthly meeting, Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale gave them what they were looking for.
The meeting, held at the Riley Avenue Elementary School, was the first in which a town supervisor fielded questions in a Calverton civic meeting forum. More than 100 residents attended.
"The Calverton Civic Association is one of the strongest civic groups in town," said Cardinale, "and I wanted to find out what really concerns the residents. No question is off limits."
And the questions came fast and furious. Many were related the to the current situation with the town's Youngs Avenue landfill, where a reclamation project has stalled.
The project, which commenced over a decade ago after a court ordered the town to shut down its landfill, was intended to clean up the landfill by removing all the garbage at a cost of $35 million. Once reclaimed, the town planned to use the property for a park or possibly sell it off for development. It would not have had those options if it chose to cap the landfill as many other municipalities have.
The project, however, hit a roadblock recently when it was learned that the cost for reclamation would be substantially more than originally estimated: The reason: there appears to be more garbage than was first anticipated.
Flurries of questions starting with why, how, and who were directed at the supervisor, who was not in office when the project first commenced.
Cardinale informed the concerned residents that the town is investigating the situation and by the end of the month, both an audit and a report to be rendered by an outside engineer firm, will provide answers.
Among the information the town hopes to gather is how much garbage remains at the landfill site, why was it underestimated in 1994 when Young and Young engineers first made an estimate, and what are the town's options?
Cardinale surmises that either the town will have to cap the landfill or continue to reclaim it. It all depends on cost.
Prior cost and fees are also under investigation, according to the supervisor, who wants to make sure the town was not being overcharged.
However, while an audit is underway, Cardinale said he doesn't anticipate the results to show any corruption or mishandling of money.
"My sense is that we got value for what we have spent so far," he said.
And if there was wrongdoing, those responsible will be held accountable.
Cardinale said he hopes to make sure taxes do not need to be increased to solve the problem. If the town board decides to continue with the reclamation, which is being performed by Grimes Contracting, the town intends to recoup what it has spent on the project by selling off the development rights of the land.
And if it is wiser to cap what is left, Cardinale said 30 acres of the 70-acre landfill could still be sold for development rights.
Selling sand that was used to disguise the landfill is also another means of recovering monies.
Sand that has also been found to be tainted with oil can be sold off as topsoil, according to Long Island Compost. And the town, said the supervisor, is looking to find out who dumped oil at the landfill and will seek to sue them. It is surmised the oil came from the Northville oil tanks.
"Thank God this is not an election year. There will be no throwing each other under the bus," said Cardinale, who added the landfill issue is one of the most important the town will have to grapple with this year.
Aside from discussing the landfill, the supervisor spoke with the residents about the future of Enterprise Park at Calverton, Island Water Park, and a proposed go-kart track for Edwards Avenue.